Peru’s City of Cusco: Things to Amaze You

Many travellers arrive in Cusco as a stopping point before heading out to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu either by trekking the Inca Trail or catching the train which leaves from Cusco.  As well as being a gate way to the Inca trail and Machu Picchu, Cusco is an amazing place to visit and there are many great things to see and experience as you walk around this city.

The city of Cusco is located at an elevation of just over 3300 metres above sea level and is a city of contrasts where the western world meets the ancient and indigenous world.  This city is sometimes referred to as the ‘Archaeological Capital of the America’s’ and has much to offer the visiting traveller.   Before you start your sightseeing in Cusco make sure that you buy yourself a tourist ticket as this will guarantee admission to many of the popular tourist places in the city of Cusco.

Many people start their sightseeing in the centre of Cusco in The Plaza de Armas which is the main square and is used as a place for ceremonies and military parades.  The Plaza was once surrounded by Inca palaces and the remains of the Inca Pachacutec’s palace can still be seen along the north west side of the square.  This area now contains a variety of restaurants and cafes and is a great place to sit and have a coffee.

Overlooking the Plaza de Armas is the Cusco Cathedral which was built in the 1500s on the foundation of the Inca Viracocha’s palace.  The church was built in the shape of a Latin cross and is supported by only fourteen massive pillars.  Visitors to the church can marvel at the paintings and architecture however the history and legends surrounding this church are also worth the visit.

Qoricancha or the Inca Temple of the Sun is another of the great tourist destinations in Cusco.  The Temple of the sun was constructed with the finest Inca Stone work and was originally detailed in gold and other riches which unfortunately was taken by the visiting conquistadors who melted down the gold destroying these Inca treasures.  In the 17th century the Santo Domingo Church was built over the site of the temple however there is still remnants of the original temple stone work at the site.

There are many other great places to visit in the city of Cusco so if you are planning a visit to this part of Peru make sure that you give yourself a few days to experience everything this city has to offer.

Peruvian Tourism Earns $10-Billion Yearly

Nature has always worked in Peru’s favor: its coastline makes for abundant fishing, diverse geography makes for excellent agriculture, and its gold supplies make it one of the world’s biggest producers of the precious metal. But it’s nature in its untouched form that’s proven the most lucrative so far for one of the fastest-growing economies in South America.

Tourism accounts for 6% to 7% of Peru’s gross domestic product (GDP) today, up from just over 3% in 2007, according to the country’s Central Reserve Bank. The industry generates some 30 billion soles (US$10.6 billion) a year, according to National Tourism Chamber director Carlos Canales.

This doesn’t include informal tourism by unregistered companies, outside heavily advertised activities such as sports, dining, and sight-seeing, according to Canales. When taken into account, these would increase the numbers by a further 50%.

Internal tourism has also gone up significantly from 2007, as locals opted for domestic travel rather than jetting off to pricey overseas destinations. Some 12 million Peruvians visit popular sites every year, with activity spiking during holidays, and spend between 350 and 370 soles ($124 to $131) per trip. Foreign tourists spend an average of $1,100 each in the country.

Canales says he expects the trend to continue in 2011, rising by at least 15% in the domestic sector. Sites like Machu Picchu, the Cordilleras, the Nazca Lines, and Lake Titicaca continue to be popular, although up-and-coming destinations are also set to welcome more visitors this year.

For instance, Ayacucho, a town in the southern stretch of the Peruvian Andes, is expecting some 17,000 visitors over the Easter weekend—7% more than last year. Ayacucho trade and tourism head Juan Carlos Arango says it is especially popular among religious travelers, who visit its 33 churches (each representing a year in Jesus’ life) as part of Easter practice. The town’s name is Quechua for “death corner.”

Rooms are already fully booked until Easter Sunday, according to Ayacucho’s hotel sector representatives. Over the weekend, daily processions depicting Christ’s life take place on the streets followed by thousands of spectators.

Peru Travel Mart, a yearly convention of business and government executives in the tourism industry, is set to take place from May 15 to 16 in Lima. Canales expects to close as much as $54 million worth deals at the event, three times last year’s total. Delegates include buyers, sellers, and businesses from all over South America, as well as Poland, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

Peruvian Restaurant Named One of World’s Best

Its façade is grand yet unassuming: that of a quiet colonial house overlooking a side street near Lima’s Parque Central. But Astrid y Gastón is far from unknown. Arguably the best restaurant in Peru, it is part of a growing international chain owned by celebrity chef and restaurateur Gastón Acurio and his wife, Astrid.

Its latest claim to fame is making it to the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, ranked 42nd. The list is put together every year by Restaurant magazine, and employs over 800 restaurant industry experts from around the world. It is widely regarded as the “Oscars” of the restaurant business.

Acurio, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, prides himself on using local ingredients and traditional cooking methods. The restaurant’s selection, however, is a bit more varied. Restaurant describes it as a mish-mash of light Peruvian and international cuisine. Pacific seafood, abundant throughout the year, leads the pack alongside signature dishes like suckling goat, warm ceviche, and noble robado (a local fish). Astrid also serves up a long list of desserts, each of them spectacular, according to Frommer’s review.

Inside, guests are welcomed by a hip yet cozy interior, the orange-and-white walls adorned with modern art and the lighting sleek but welcoming. A wine-salon room is sectioned off for privacy, and an open kitchen showcases Gastón and his staff at work. Reservations are usually recommended during peak seasons, especially at dinner hours. Main courses range from $11 to $26.

The restaurant’s inclusion in the list is a sign that fine cuisine is no longer concentrated in big players like France, Spain, and Italy, but is spreading towards more eclectic tastes, according to Restaurant editor Willam Drew. Russia, China, and Mexico all have new entries this year.

René Redzepi’s waterfront restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen topped the list for the second year in a row. Its cuisine is described as Nordic- and Scandinavian-inspired more than straight Nordic, and features seafood, fresh cheese, and international wines on center stage. It was followed by Spanish restaurants El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz, and Osteria Francescana in Italy.

Astrid y Gastón has restaurants in Madrid and several cities in South America, including Bogota, Colombia; Caracas, Venezuela; Panama City, Quito, Ecuador, and Santiago, Chile. They also opened another restaurant in San Francisco in 2008. Acurio’s book, 500 Años de Fusion (“500 Years of Fusion”), was awarded the best book on international dining by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Know The Best Places In Peru To Trek Travel

When planning a holiday in Peru many people choose to trek travel the Inca Trail which takes you high into the mountains of Peru to the ancient city of Machu Picchu.  This trek is by far the most popular trek in Peru however there are many other great treks in this region which are less crowded with tourists and still show case some spectacular parts of the ancient Inca civilisation.  Many people choose these alternative treks as you don’t need to book in advance for permits and some of the treks are a bit easier (and some are more challenging) than the Inca Trail.  The following trails are some of the great alternative treks that you can go on when visiting this region of Peru.

The Lares Valley trek is a great alternative to the Inca Trail for people who want to escape from the many and sometimes large tourist groups that use the Inca Trail.  This trek takes visitors to remote and beautiful areas of Lares Valley and gives you the opportunity to see and meet local farmers who live in this area.  This trek has a moderate rating due to the altitude aspect of the trek however a few days spent in Cusco before the trek starts is highly recommended to acclimatise.

Another great place to trek travel in this region of Peru is around the Ausangate Circuit.  This area is home to an impressive mountain range called the Cordillera Vilcanota and includes the 6,300m Nevado de Ausangate peak an impressive sight during the trek.  As well as the mountain experience this trek also offers visitors the chance to experience natural hot springs, glacier walks, snow capped mountains meet the locals who call this area home.  Some tour operators who operate on this trail provide visitors with a horse to ride however much of the trek is quite steep so only attempt the horse riding if you are a fairly experienced rider.  There is also the option of trekking only on this trail but it has a rating of moderate to difficult and requires visitors to fully acclimatize before the start of the trek.

The Choquequirao Trek is another excellent trek which takes visitors through the mountains to another of the lost city of the Incas.  This trek offers views of snow capped mountains, glaciers, the Apurimac River and also Inca ruins.  With the limits on tourists visiting the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail this trek and others are becoming more popular with visitors.

Lima Airport Named the Best in South America

Travelers wanting to see South America have good reason to land in Lima: Peru’s Jorge Chavez International Airport has been named the best in the continent for the third consecutive year.

The award was given at the 2011 World Airport Awards, held this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. Winners were chosen based on surveys by Skytrax Research, a London-based aviation consultancy firm that performs yearly evaluations and satisfaction surveys. They also conduct the World Airport Awards and provide critical information for government air transport policies.

The study ranked airports according to 39 criteria, such as cleanliness, ease of access, security waiting times, staff service and language skills, baggage delivery and handling of lost luggage, and even the price range in retail outlets. Information was gathered over an eight-month period from over 11 million travelers, spanning more than 100 nationalities.

Peru’s flagship airport topped 240 others in South America in almost all categories. It scored high on security for its strict transport regulations; all tour buses and taxis are required to register, and visitors are strongly advised to take only airport-approved rides.

Other top rankers include the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo Airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in second and third place respectively. Jorge Chavez Airport also won the Skytrax Airport Staff Service Excellent Award.

The airport’s recently renovated Sumaq VIP Lounge was also voted Lounge of the Year in 2010 by members of Priority Pass, the world’s biggest independent airport access network, beating out 600 other VIP lounges around the world. The lounge is exclusive to first and business class passengers and is one of several VIP lounges in the airport, along with VIP Peru and the exclusive VIP Club for first class travelers.

Much of the airport’s success came after renovations began in 2005, starting with a new concourse and the Peru Plaza Shopping Center. The latter features a wide range of shops and restaurants, as well as several gyms and a spa. Major brands such as Versace, Esprit, Lacoste, and Timberland are well represented, and more are expected to join the ranks as expansion continues this year. A food court on the second floor hosts international outlets such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Also adding to the airport’s appeal is a recently built four-star hotel, the Ramada Costa del Sol, funded by Lima Airport Partners. The hotel, located right in front of the arrivals exit, features noise-canceling panels for superior sound insulation, as well as a bar and business center.

Peru’s City of Cusco: Things to Amaze You

Many travellers arrive in Cusco as a stopping point before heading out to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu either by trekking the Inca Trail or catching the train which leaves from Cusco.  As well as being a gate way to the Inca trail and Machu Picchu, Cusco is an amazing place to visit and there are many great things to see and experience as you walk around this city.

The city of Cusco is located at an elevation of just over 3300 metres above sea level and is a city of contrasts where the western world meets the ancient and indigenous world.  This city is sometimes referred to as the ‘Archaeological Capital of the America’s’ and has much to offer the visiting traveller.   Before you start your sightseeing in Cusco make sure that you buy yourself a tourist ticket as this will guarantee admission to many of the popular tourist places in the city of Cusco.

Many people start their sightseeing in the centre of Cusco in The Plaza de Armas which is the main square and is used as a place for ceremonies and military parades.  The Plaza was once surrounded by Inca palaces and the remains of the Inca Pachacutec’s palace can still be seen along the north west side of the square.  This area now contains a variety of restaurants and cafes and is a great place to sit and have a coffee.

Overlooking the Plaza de Armas is the Cusco Cathedral which was built in the 1500s on the foundation of the Inca Viracocha’s palace.  The church was built in the shape of a Latin cross and is supported by only fourteen massive pillars.  Visitors to the church can marvel at the paintings and architecture however the history and legends surrounding this church are also worth the visit.

Qoricancha or the Inca Temple of the Sun is another of the great tourist destinations in Cusco.  The Temple of the sun was constructed with the finest Inca Stone work and was originally detailed in gold and other riches which unfortunately was taken by the visiting conquistadors who melted down the gold destroying these Inca treasures.  In the 17th century the Santo Domingo Church was built over the site of the temple however there is still remnants of the original temple stone work at the site.

There are many other great places to visit in the city of Cusco so if you are planning a visit to this part of Peru make sure that you give yourself a few days to experience everything this city has to offer.

Peruvian Tourism Earns $10-Billion Yearly

Nature has always worked in Peru’s favor: its coastline makes for abundant fishing, diverse geography makes for excellent agriculture, and its gold supplies make it one of the world’s biggest producers of the precious metal. But it’s nature in its untouched form that’s proven the most lucrative so far for one of the fastest-growing economies in South America.

Tourism accounts for 6% to 7% of Peru’s gross domestic product (GDP) today, up from just over 3% in 2007, according to the country’s Central Reserve Bank. The industry generates some 30 billion soles (US$10.6 billion) a year, according to National Tourism Chamber director Carlos Canales.

This doesn’t include informal tourism by unregistered companies, outside heavily advertised activities such as sports, dining, and sight-seeing, according to Canales. When taken into account, these would increase the numbers by a further 50%.

Internal tourism has also gone up significantly from 2007, as locals opted for domestic travel rather than jetting off to pricey overseas destinations. Some 12 million Peruvians visit popular sites every year, with activity spiking during holidays, and spend between 350 and 370 soles ($124 to $131) per trip. Foreign tourists spend an average of $1,100 each in the country.

Canales says he expects the trend to continue in 2011, rising by at least 15% in the domestic sector. Sites like Machu Picchu, the Cordilleras, the Nazca Lines, and Lake Titicaca continue to be popular, although up-and-coming destinations are also set to welcome more visitors this year.

For instance, Ayacucho, a town in the southern stretch of the Peruvian Andes, is expecting some 17,000 visitors over the Easter weekend—7% more than last year. Ayacucho trade and tourism head Juan Carlos Arango says it is especially popular among religious travelers, who visit its 33 churches (each representing a year in Jesus’ life) as part of Easter practice. The town’s name is Quechua for “death corner.”

Rooms are already fully booked until Easter Sunday, according to Ayacucho’s hotel sector representatives. Over the weekend, daily processions depicting Christ’s life take place on the streets followed by thousands of spectators.

Peru Travel Mart, a yearly convention of business and government executives in the tourism industry, is set to take place from May 15 to 16 in Lima. Canales expects to close as much as $54 million worth deals at the event, three times last year’s total. Delegates include buyers, sellers, and businesses from all over South America, as well as Poland, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

Peruvian Restaurant Named One of World’s Best

Its façade is grand yet unassuming: that of a quiet colonial house overlooking a side street near Lima’s Parque Central. But Astrid y Gastón is far from unknown. Arguably the best restaurant in Peru, it is part of a growing international chain owned by celebrity chef and restaurateur Gastón Acurio and his wife, Astrid.

Its latest claim to fame is making it to the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, ranked 42nd. The list is put together every year by Restaurant magazine, and employs over 800 restaurant industry experts from around the world. It is widely regarded as the “Oscars” of the restaurant business.

Acurio, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, prides himself on using local ingredients and traditional cooking methods. The restaurant’s selection, however, is a bit more varied. Restaurant describes it as a mish-mash of light Peruvian and international cuisine. Pacific seafood, abundant throughout the year, leads the pack alongside signature dishes like suckling goat, warm ceviche, and noble robado (a local fish). Astrid also serves up a long list of desserts, each of them spectacular, according to Frommer’s review.

Inside, guests are welcomed by a hip yet cozy interior, the orange-and-white walls adorned with modern art and the lighting sleek but welcoming. A wine-salon room is sectioned off for privacy, and an open kitchen showcases Gastón and his staff at work. Reservations are usually recommended during peak seasons, especially at dinner hours. Main courses range from $11 to $26.

The restaurant’s inclusion in the list is a sign that fine cuisine is no longer concentrated in big players like France, Spain, and Italy, but is spreading towards more eclectic tastes, according to Restaurant editor Willam Drew. Russia, China, and Mexico all have new entries this year.

René Redzepi’s waterfront restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen topped the list for the second year in a row. Its cuisine is described as Nordic- and Scandinavian-inspired more than straight Nordic, and features seafood, fresh cheese, and international wines on center stage. It was followed by Spanish restaurants El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz, and Osteria Francescana in Italy.

Astrid y Gastón has restaurants in Madrid and several cities in South America, including Bogota, Colombia; Caracas, Venezuela; Panama City, Quito, Ecuador, and Santiago, Chile. They also opened another restaurant in San Francisco in 2008. Acurio’s book, 500 Años de Fusion (“500 Years of Fusion”), was awarded the best book on international dining by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Know The Best Places In Peru To Trek Travel

When planning a holiday in Peru many people choose to trek travel the Inca Trail which takes you high into the mountains of Peru to the ancient city of Machu Picchu.  This trek is by far the most popular trek in Peru however there are many other great treks in this region which are less crowded with tourists and still show case some spectacular parts of the ancient Inca civilisation.  Many people choose these alternative treks as you don’t need to book in advance for permits and some of the treks are a bit easier (and some are more challenging) than the Inca Trail.  The following trails are some of the great alternative treks that you can go on when visiting this region of Peru.

The Lares Valley trek is a great alternative to the Inca Trail for people who want to escape from the many and sometimes large tourist groups that use the Inca Trail.  This trek takes visitors to remote and beautiful areas of Lares Valley and gives you the opportunity to see and meet local farmers who live in this area.  This trek has a moderate rating due to the altitude aspect of the trek however a few days spent in Cusco before the trek starts is highly recommended to acclimatise.

Another great place to trek travel in this region of Peru is around the Ausangate Circuit.  This area is home to an impressive mountain range called the Cordillera Vilcanota and includes the 6,300m Nevado de Ausangate peak an impressive sight during the trek.  As well as the mountain experience this trek also offers visitors the chance to experience natural hot springs, glacier walks, snow capped mountains meet the locals who call this area home.  Some tour operators who operate on this trail provide visitors with a horse to ride however much of the trek is quite steep so only attempt the horse riding if you are a fairly experienced rider.  There is also the option of trekking only on this trail but it has a rating of moderate to difficult and requires visitors to fully acclimatize before the start of the trek.

The Choquequirao Trek is another excellent trek which takes visitors through the mountains to another of the lost city of the Incas.  This trek offers views of snow capped mountains, glaciers, the Apurimac River and also Inca ruins.  With the limits on tourists visiting the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail this trek and others are becoming more popular with visitors.

Lima Airport Named the Best in South America

Travelers wanting to see South America have good reason to land in Lima: Peru’s Jorge Chavez International Airport has been named the best in the continent for the third consecutive year.

The award was given at the 2011 World Airport Awards, held this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. Winners were chosen based on surveys by Skytrax Research, a London-based aviation consultancy firm that performs yearly evaluations and satisfaction surveys. They also conduct the World Airport Awards and provide critical information for government air transport policies.

The study ranked airports according to 39 criteria, such as cleanliness, ease of access, security waiting times, staff service and language skills, baggage delivery and handling of lost luggage, and even the price range in retail outlets. Information was gathered over an eight-month period from over 11 million travelers, spanning more than 100 nationalities.

Peru’s flagship airport topped 240 others in South America in almost all categories. It scored high on security for its strict transport regulations; all tour buses and taxis are required to register, and visitors are strongly advised to take only airport-approved rides.

Other top rankers include the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo Airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in second and third place respectively. Jorge Chavez Airport also won the Skytrax Airport Staff Service Excellent Award.

The airport’s recently renovated Sumaq VIP Lounge was also voted Lounge of the Year in 2010 by members of Priority Pass, the world’s biggest independent airport access network, beating out 600 other VIP lounges around the world. The lounge is exclusive to first and business class passengers and is one of several VIP lounges in the airport, along with VIP Peru and the exclusive VIP Club for first class travelers.

Much of the airport’s success came after renovations began in 2005, starting with a new concourse and the Peru Plaza Shopping Center. The latter features a wide range of shops and restaurants, as well as several gyms and a spa. Major brands such as Versace, Esprit, Lacoste, and Timberland are well represented, and more are expected to join the ranks as expansion continues this year. A food court on the second floor hosts international outlets such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Also adding to the airport’s appeal is a recently built four-star hotel, the Ramada Costa del Sol, funded by Lima Airport Partners. The hotel, located right in front of the arrivals exit, features noise-canceling panels for superior sound insulation, as well as a bar and business center.

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